Gayfeather (Button Snakeroot; Blazing Star)
Perennial with an unbranched stalk, sometimes seen by the thousands, hairy throughout. Flowerheads densely crowded around upper spikelike stalk, rose-purple. Involucral bracts (overlapping leaflike structures at the base of each flowerhead) broadly lance-shaped, recurved (flaring back), tapering to a sharp point, mostly with thin, pale to transparent margins, the margins or the entire bract sometimes strongly purplish-tinged. Heads have 4–9 disk florets. Blooms July-October. Leaves quite narrow, the lower to 20 inches long, becoming much shorter higher up. Rootstock a rounded corm.
Similar species: There are 9 species of Liatris recorded for Missouri, and many of these have been known to hybridize where they occur in the same vicinity. To distinguish between the various species and hybrids, one should be prepared to note details of the flower structure, such as the involucral bracts described above.